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And The Student Challenges The Master....

It's the day I suspected would eventually come but was actually hoping wouldn't  -- the day I don't just disagree with Peter David, who taught me how to write, but actively oppose him.

Here's what set everything off:  a quick search through Previews for November does not list a copy of X-Factor.  David has also written on his web site that he's frustrated that he's busted his ass to make X-Factor a great book and get fans talking, and it's going nowhere.  He also stated that, despite the buzz he's generating for the book, retailers refuse to order more copies, insuring the sales figures never rise.

I should also note there's quite a bit of gloating going on over the thought that the book is canceled.  The source is how David was involved in getting Daily Scans, which posted scanned comics on the Internet, taken down.  I will admit David's statements that he had no idea alerting Marvel to Daily Scans' existence would result in a C&D (especially for a guy who brags about being online longer than most anyone in the comic industry, and crusaded against Napster along with his pal, Harlan Ellison) are rather disingenuous.  That, plus his bitching that the Internet is only good for spoiling stories.  Basically, I got lots to address here, and I'll move through it.

First of all, as far as pouring your heart and soul into something, making it the best writing you can, and not getting proportionately rewarded for your work...

Firewater!

The Supremacy.

Stress Puppy.

Sound Waves.


Welcome to my world, and the world of EVERY INDEPENDENT ARTISTIC CREATOR!

Any creation is an artistic dice roll.  Sometimes the deserving are rewarded.  Oftentimes, they are ignored in favor of the flavor of the month or whoever the corporate bankrollers say should be rewarded.  There are genius musicians who drive themselves to gigs eight hours from their homes and who will never be able to quit their regular jobs.  YOU DO NOT CONTROL WHETHER OR NOT YOUR WORK IS REWARDED.

David created a book with an indie feel for an audience that doesn't read indies.  Well, THERE'S yer problem!

And there's a reason there are spoilers -- you audience isn't sure the books are worth the price.  Avoiding spoilers can be tricky, but it can be done.  I did it with Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, despite idiots in cars with bullhorns driving by and shouting out the ending.  And comics ain't as big as Harry.

You want sales and people who aren't chased away by spoilers?  Write for those people.  There are people willing to pay for stories, and that's who you should be aiming for, not people who aren't interested in paying.  You'll never stop them from trying to get stuff for free, even if it's borrowing someone else's copy and talking about it.  What's more, current comic fans LOVE spoilers.  DC took full advantage of that for it's Blackest Night crossover.  First, they revealed some of the heavies by soliciting action figures for BN about a year before the story launched.  Next, they let IGN break the story of who the chief baddie is and let Diamond put the guy secretly running the whole scheme on the cover of the Previews where that particular issue can be ordered before it's released to the stores (it's a character named Nekron, which, as far as I can tell, everyone following this already guessed).  And orders for the series are crazy high specifically because of the spoilers.  Spoilers are part of the game now, and all the complaining in the world won't change it.  Retailers aren't ordering any extra copies of X-Factor because, buzz is one thing, translating that into sales is another.  If people are talking about a series but not buying it when there are already copies out (I can still find stores with the outing of Shatterstar issue on the shelf for cover price), ordering an extra 10 or 20 isn't going to bring in any more sales, it's only going to chase more money out of the retailers' pockets.  That's just bad economics, and I don't blame retailers for being jittery (and I'm a self-publisher, goddammit!).

X-Factor was doomed from the beginning.  I'm actually amazed it lasted as long as it did.  But to complain because the audience you are courting is behaving the way you expect them to doesn't work.  I know it sucks to put all your effort into something, just to get the horse shot out from under you.  But this isn't some grand experiment that just didn't work.  It was something you were trying to get people who don't usually read that stuff to read.

You wanna know what this is?  'Cause I'm gonna tell you what this is.  This is just like a high school crush -- a guy flips for a girl, but she's apathetic towards him.  So he continues to hang around, hoping that eventually the things she doesn't like will become less noticable and she will see the wonderful treasure in front of her and accept him.  And it never works.  The negatives never fall away, the positives do, because she isn't interested in the positives he provides.  David created X-Factor, a film noir take on mutants in a subculture that wants epic stories, not quiet focus.  And when the fans turned to spoilers to weigh whether or not it would be worth the plunge, David got upset, basically saying that everyone would love it if they would just give it a chance.

And X-Factor goes to the dance and stands against the gym wall with the rest of us nerds....

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